Sunday, December 1, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

This weekend has been a whirlwind! We were fortunate enough to be able to visit family for the holidays and had a fantastic time. My son surprised us all by deciding to run in a 5k the day after Thanksgiving! He had done it once before but had trained for a long time before trying it. This time he just decided to do it the morning of the race! We are all so proud of him...he did a fantastic job!

I had every intention to do a little Black Friday shopping but it never happened. I promised the kids that we would all watch the Punkin' Chunkin' special on the Science Channel. We went to the actual Punkin' Chunkin' a few weeks before and there was a possibility that we could be on TV. Little did I know that the special was 2 hours long! I did get to see a split second of my kids as they panned the audience! We'll have to watch it again with the pause button ready! Anyway, by the time the special was over, I was done for the shopping for me! I'll have to make up for it on Cyber Monday! (I can shop and watch TV at the same time!)

Speaking of Cyber Monday, TpT is having their big Cyber Monday sale! Everything is discounted site wide. All of the items in my store are 28% off! If you have been using the focus walls or the morning work and don't yet have all of them, now is the time to buy! The sale is actually from Dec 2-3 so you have a little time to shop. I know my wish list is growing!

If you haven't been lately, there are a couple of new things in my store. I finally finished December Morning Work...about time! The Catholic version has pages for each week in Advent.

There's also a great Christmas Cookies real/nonsense word activity:

I love doing these activities with my kids. They really help with students who need practice with decoding. It's amazing how much more quickly they can decode from the beginning of the activity to the end! 

So, be sure to stop by and check it all out! 

Happy Shopping!!!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Fifty Followers Flash Freebie!

Yea! My TpT store has 50 followers. To celebrate, for the next 50 minutes my Short Vowel Spinner Games are Free!!!

Click the picture below to get your copy:


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

I'm Back!

Oh, that's right, I have a blog!!! Life has been so busy with home and school that I haven't been posting like I should. Of course, I haven't been cleaning, cooking, exercising or sleeping like I should either!

We spend the weekend in Delaware at the World Championship Punkin' Chunkin'. I should have my pictures downloaded tomorrow. Everyone had a fantastic time! I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it! Unfortunately we were right by the outlets and I forgot that there is no sales tax in about a missed opportunity!

First grade is clicking along. The kids are just fantastic this year. We're finishing up our short vowel study and getting ready for long vowels and blends. Our enrichment teacher was in the other day with a great Halloween spinner game to teach map coordinates. It got me thinking about all the ways I could be using spinners in the classroom. We had just done a spinner page in math so I decided to make a game for language arts, too. I came up with a Short Vowel Spinner Game. The kids use a paperclip and a pencil and spin to find beginning letters for cvc words. We started using it as a center this week and they love it! They have to decide if the words are real or nonsense so it's great for decoding. It gives me a good idea of who's really decoding and who is relying on other skills. It also let me focus on kids who are having trouble with short vowels.

I'm definitely going to have to get a game together for cvce and vowel blends. (Of course, I still have to get December morning work made so it may take a while!)

If anyone is interested, here's a link to the game:

More to come but first I need to sleep!!!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Busy, Busy, Busy

Wow, when the school year started I had no idea how busy I'd be this year. I had great plans for posting on the blog at least once a week. You see how that went! Overall, though, school is going great. I have a fantastic class and an amazing TA so I can't complain! We've just started to really get into Houghton Mifflin Reading and this is my favorite time of year with it. We started our reading groups and have begun to focus on high frequency words. I bought this resource pack from Made for 1st Grade and it has been a lifesaver! I've had it for three years now and by far the thing I use most are the Lightning Words. It's a weekly sight word homework sheet and the results are amazing! I love it! You can see it here:

 If you teach Houghton Mifflin this is definitely worth it! New for me this year is Reading A-Z. I put it on my order last year and the resource fairy delivered it! I haven't spent too much time with it yet but now that things are slowing down a little bit I plan to. I had a free trial last year for a couple of weeks and I really liked it. I like the decodable readers but...WOW...I love the reader's theater. I started doing RT a couple of times a week and the difference in fluency was amazing! I only had a limited number of downloads so I made a few of my own scripts using our decodable readers that come with the reading series. By the time we were done "rehearsing" and performing they had read the book at least 6 times and they loved doing it. Definitely not boring!!

Well, beef stir-fry and hungry children are waiting!!!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Literacy Linky Party!

I just joined up with iHeartLiteracy for a K-2 Literacy Roundup linky party! I linked my Houghton Mifflin Focus Wall for Theme 1. It's getting to be that time and if you've just started school and you're using HM Reading Theme 1 is right around the corner. For me, next week is the last week of the Back to School theme. I know how important Kindergarten review is but I have to admit that I love getting into the routine of the themes, starting reading groups, etc. When I put up my focus walls I feel like we're really back to school! Come join the party!


Speaking of back to school, last week we made our first class book. Every year I start with this one since we're working on letter/sound review. It's an ABC Book made with the children's names. Tomorrow I'll bind it and put it in the class library. I can guarantee that for a few weeks we'll have to pick sticks (popsicle sticks with the student's names on them) to decide who gets to hold/read the book. Even after that, though, it's always a popular book. I have a special book box for all the books we make together along with yearbooks from past years. Always a hit!

Well, we've certainly enjoyed the long weekend! I don't think we really did anything at all but it was nice to not really have any pressure. Now it's off to make lunches and iron shirts (and find out what last minute homework someone accidentally forgot!).

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


September is right around the corner! Now is a great time to pick up my packet of September Morning Work. It's packed with great math and literacy activities for September. I use Houghton Mifflin at my school so the literacy activities are loosely aligned with that but it can be used with any program. Stop by and take a look!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Flash Freebie!!!

As promised, here is today's flash freebie! From 6-7 pm today I'll be giving away the newest item in my store. It's Picture Me in First Grade:

This great back to school activity includes a picture frame for students to draw or paint a self portrait and an All About Me sheet for them to write about themselves and their favorite things. I'm doing this one next week and I hope to have it ready for a back to school display for our parent night on Wednesday.

I'm also super excited to do this again at the end of the year. I love seeing how much the children have changed--in their likes and their abilities. The handwriting alone is always so different. I'll send the beginning and end of the year papers and drawings home at the end of the year but I'll keep copies for their portfolios. I'm thinking I'll bind them somehow but I'll cross that bridge in May!


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Quick Post!

Just a quick's been a busy back to school week! It's great to be back with the kids. I have a fantastic class this year! Check back tomorrow for Flash Freebie News!!!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Ready for Back to School! (maybe)

Monday is the big day! The kids and I all go back to school. The room is ready, there is a mountain of supplies waiting by the door and all of the summer homework is done! I'm all planned for the first week but, of course, you never can tell until you really get in there and get to know the kids. I have a lot of activities planned thanks to some back to school shopping at Teachers pay Teachers! I may or may not use them all but I feel better knowing that I have them, just in case!

We just got back from an impromptu trip to Virginia where we surprised my mom for her 75th birthday! She had no idea we were coming. I told her that she would be getting something for her birthday but not to have dinner. When we pulled up to her street I called her and told asked if anything had been delivered. We put her presents on her porch, knocked and ran around the side of the house. It was great! She was completely surprised! It was a whirlwind trip...just one night...but so much fun!

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Back to School Sale!

Wow! What a crazy week. It's work week for me and I'm exhausted! On top of that, TpT just announced it's Back to School Sale! If you happen to have anything wish listed, now is the time to buy it! Everything in my store will be 28% off!

Don't forget the promo code: BTS13. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Zebra Curtains!

Well not much of a post but I did get into my room for about an hour today and I got a little (very little) work done. I was at Walmart and I found these fantastic Zebra Curtains!! Perfect for my jungle room and less than $5.00 each! I took them in today with curtain rods intending to hang them. I opened the curtain rods and they attached with HUGE screws! I'll admit that push pin things pretty freely to my walls but this was a bit much even for me! I was about to give up when inspiration hit! 3M Command tape! I LOVE Command hooks and I always have tons of the adhesive left over so I used that on the back of the curtain rod mount and voila! the curtains are up!

I'm short one curtain rod so it's back to Walmart tomorrow but I love the way the curtains look. For now, though, it's time to get ready for tomorrow--work week! My days of staying up until 2am are sadly over...for now!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Flash Freebie!!

It's been a fantastic summer and it's hard to believe it has come to an end! I start workweek on Monday so to celebrate the end of summer and the beginning of another great school year I'm having a flash freebie! From now until midnight I'm offering my Pick-A-Problem subtraction game for FREE! This is a great game for the beginning of second grade. I used it at the very end of first, once we had learned how to subtract two-digit numbers. There's no borrowing so it's a pretty independent center or it can be used as a morning work game or for early finishers. Click the picture to head to my store and download it.

Enjoy and be sure to follow me for upcoming sales and flash freebies!

Happy New School Year!!


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Final Fling!

Our final summer fling was a trip to Baltimore. I grew up around DC and spent summers at camp around the Chesapeake so Inner Harbor was always a favorite spot for us. My kids, however, are native North Carolinians so they hadn't been. We will definitely have to go back in the near future. There was just way too much to do for one day--but we did as much as we could!

I've always loved the Inner Harbor boat tour but we were too late for that so we did the next best thing. Water Taxi!

We taxied our way to the National Aquarium. I had to pick myself off of the floor when I saw the admission but in the end it was definitely worth it. The aquarium spirals up through the building and then down the middle. It's hard to explain but it was fascinating.

Next stop: Science Museum! Normally we wouldn't have splurged for this but we have a membership at a planetarium at home and we were able to use it to get into the science museum for free! There was a neat exhibit on Newton and everything was very hands on--my favorite kind of museum!

Our final stop was Ripley's Mirror Maze. It was amazing! Probably the most fun we had all day. We laughed and laughed and laughed! I tried to take pictures in there but it really didn't work!

It was a jam packed day but we had a blast! We'll definitely be back soon!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Classroom Set Up--Day 2!

I spent about 7 hours today getting ready and putting the room together. I feel like I really got a lot done. Of course it helps that I'm in a modular and there was no one else there with me. (So no chatting!)

My starting point. In the back corner you can see my fantastic helper for the day!

I always put the rug out first. It's kind of the anchor for the room and everything else fits around it.

I have 17 desks for next year. It looks kind of plain right now but I'm planning on putting border on the cabinets and sprucing things up a bit.

This is the pile of stuff that I need to figure out something to do with. The sad part is that I don't have the order I placed at the end of last year yet! The closet (the closed door in this picture) and the cabinets are all the storage I have so I have to make the most of it. I'm not sure how to do that yet but I'll figure it out. Of course, the most important thing in this picture is the Diet Lemonade from Chick-Fil-A. Absolutely necessary for all room set up!

This pocket chart is going to be my "I'm Through" chart. It has a list of activities for early finishers. The blue things on the desks are from Really Good Stuff. They are pencil/eraser/name tag holders. I had them last year but I had tables and they didn't fit so I'm excited to try them out this year. 

So what's waiting for me next is to put away all my new supplies and start decorating the room. I'm going with a jungle theme this year (surprise!) and I'm making jungle labels and a job chart, etc. I'll be sure to post pictures!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The 3am Teacher

Wow, I just spent a ton of time over at The 3am Teacher. I can't believe how much I learned ! (and how much I still have to learn!) It's a fantastic resource. I really love the Tickle Me Tech tutorial for making beautiful cover pages. Now I have some work to do on my covers!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Welcome Darryl!!

Yesterday we were happy to welcome a new addition to our family. It's Darryl!

We finally took the long promised trip to the SPCA to pick out a cat. We visited five cat rooms and found Darryl in the "free range kitten room." These were kittens too big to be in the crates and ready to explore. Darryl is four months old. He was sleeping when we found him. That would explain how we were tricked into thinking he was calm! He's sleeping about three hours at a stretch and purring loudly and constantly. Of course, after the three hours he wants to PLAY! He's lucky he's so cute! He's currently living in our bedroom until we formally introduce him to Larry, our dog, tomorrow.

Poor Larry. He's feeling a little lonely right now. Here's hoping tomorrow goes well!

We took Darryl (by the way, Larry and Darryl are the names they had at the shelter!) to the vet and everything checked out. The kids love him! Ok, we all do!

Welcome Home, Darryl!!!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Classroom Set Up - Here We Go!

So, it's not officially work week yet but I was able to get in and see how things were going in my room.   Happily, I'm not changing rooms this year so I was able to keep things on the wall. Yea! I requested some work to be done over the summer and it's finished! I had three cabinets on the floor by the wall and I had them moved to the wall. Much more space and I can always put kids work on the fronts of the cabinets. I'm in a modular so every little bit of space counts!

I was going to get rid of my desk but I'm just not ready to bite that bullet yet! Last year I started moving all of my things out of the desk and into the file cabinet thinking to wean myself off of using it. I think I'll keep it for one more year.

Finally, here's a picture of the mess waiting for me:

You can see all the things I was able to leave up. Last year the entire campus moved and it was a huge job figuring out where everything was going to go and getting everything put up. I'm heading in today to see what I can get done. I always feel like when I get my carpet rolled out I'm half way there!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Let's Get Acquainted Linky Party!

Flying into First Grade is having a Let's Get Acquainted Linky Party! The topic is upcoming school year goals.

I'll admit I haven't thought about this too much over the summer but I think my goal this year is to get really organized. I got a good start on it last year and this year I'm really ready to get it done! This is my third year teaching first grade and each year I get a little better grip on things.

At the end of the year I was able to go through and get rid of a LOT of things the previous teacher had left behind. Each year we have a room/table for teachers to put items that they no longer use. I'm sure the previous teacher had great ways to use the books and activities but they just weren't me, you know? After two years, I can honestly say I won't be using those items. I also purged a lot of posters that were really just things to put on the wall. I'd much rather have the children's work or resource items taking up  my precious wall space!

One thing I really want to do is keep better records of how lessons went. I hope to make notes weekly and keep them in a file. I purchased a bin for each month and when I finish a center or activity I'll put it in the bin along with the file of notes so that next year it will all be ready to go!

Well, that's my goal, anyway!

Another big organizational struggle for me is my desk!! Each year I push it back a little and it doesn't take up much space anymore. The big thing for me is the inside! It quickly becomes a place to dump things that I just don't know what to do with! I'm really not sure how to deal with that one. Any ideas would be appreciated!

I go back in two weeks and I'll be sure to take lots of pictures to show how things are coming along.

Thanks to Flying into First Grade for hosting the party! (It's my first linky party and I'm very excited!)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Happy Days in the Jungle!

Yesterday was a big day! We bit the bullet and bought a MacBook! It's beautiful and there is no more waiting until everyone is in bed to get to the computer. I'm having a great time getting used to it. It's very intuitive and it really hasn't been much work at all to switch everything over.

On top of that, once the laptop was up and running, I checked into my TpT store and...I have 10 followers! Yea! It seemed like I was at 9 forever!

All in all, a pretty great day!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Focus Walls are Finished!

Noooo! I just finished this post and somehow deleted it before I published it!!!

Well, as I was saying....

The Houghton Mifflin Focus Walls are finished and posted to TpT--Themes 1-10! Yea! I used these at the end of last year and I'm excited to start the year with them this time around. After using them for a couple of weeks last year I noticed that the kids would flock to the focus wall on Monday to find out what we were going to be doing that week. When I would get around to introducing a skill someone would always say "I already knew that...I read it on the focus wall!" LOVE that!

I'm currently working on a calendar set to go with the schedule cards that are already posted. Last year I started keeping my calendar on the Promethean board but I needed somewhere to put up the date for the kids to reference throughout the day. I have very little wall space so I used the schedule pocket chart. I'm planning on printing out the set and setting it up in the pocket chart and taking picture because I'm sure that will make it much clearer!!! But first, we're off to the library. There has been WAY too much Minecraft in my house!!!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Half Way There!!!

I just posted Theme 5 out of 10 of my first grade Houghton Mifflin reading Focus Walls! I'm half way done. Yea! I'm so excited to have these done and ready for next year. I couldn't believe how interested the kids were when I started using focus walls at the end of last year. I would find them up at the front of the room when their work was done going over the different things on the wall! I also got lots of "I already knew we were going to learn that because it's on the wall."!!!!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

New Item Up!

Since it's Sunday I thought I'd work on some of my items for Catholic school. I put up a set of prayer cards that can really be used for any grade. It's on a half sheet format that you can print out and staple together to make a Catholic prayer book. It includes lots of traditional Catholic prayers like: the Sign of the Cross, Hail Mary, Our Father, the Angelus and lots more. For the younger grades I'd probably take out some of the longer prayers and for the older grades I'd take out some of the more basic ones. I left this item free and we'll see how it does.  You can link to it by clicking on the picture below.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Schedule Cards

I've made the schedule cards and they are up on TpT! There are two different files. The first file is just regular schedule cards that you could use at any school. The second file is a Catholic edition with additional cards for things like Religion, Mass, Rosary, etc. I used these at the end of the year last year and they were great. I just cut them out, mounted them on sentence strips and laminated them. There are also blank cards that you can laminate and write in activities with dry erase and use over and over again. I usually wrote in things like class pictures, assemblies, etc. I have one of those schedule pocket charts and they fit great in there. In the top two sections I put the day of the week and the date:
September  25, 2012
and then on with the schedule. I'm going to be making calendar pieces as a separate file but they would go really great with this set.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Theme 3 is Finished!

Yea! The Theme 3 focus wall is finished and posted! Theme 3 is a little bigger because it also has spelling lists included. Here is a preview:

Enjoy! There's more to come. (Soon I hope!)

Monday, June 24, 2013


We were very touristy today. My mom thought ahead and got in touch with her senator who got us tickets to see congress in session and a tour of the capitol building. I think you can get these just by showing up but this way we were able to skip most of the lines. Yea! It was very interesting and the kids loved it! Everyone was exhausted by the time we got home but that meant that I got some time on the computer! Theme 3 is almost finished and should be up soon. I had someone ask if I planned to post Themes 3-10. Yes! As soon as they are finished they'll be up. Each theme I do seems to go a little faster and the last few themes I've already done, they just need to be reformatted and cleaned up a bit to keep them consistent with the others. Once I get home I'll dedicate a couple of days/evenings to it and the rest should be up in no time.

We have a few more days of vacation and I think we're going to head out to the pool and maybe have afternoon tea at the Ritz. Fun!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Working...Sort of!

The kids and I are visiting my mom outside of DC. I came here with my laptop and every intention of spending a couple of hours a day working on focus walls and morning work. Well....make that aobut 10 minutes...once! We're having a good time, though and it looks like the work will have to wait for a little bit. We are headed back home in a few days and I'm sure I'll get back to it then. I might get a little more donehere. It's supposed to rain so maybe I'll do a little then. I'm also working on a set of schedule cards. I made a set of jungle themed ones that fit in the schedule pocket chart. They have all the general subjects plus some blank ones that can be laminated and customized with a dry erase marker. I'm also doing a general school themed one. Hopefully soon!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Theme 2 is Ready!

The Theme 2 Focus Wall for Houghton Mifflin Reading is ready and posted on TpT. Here's a preview of some of the pages:

Monday, June 17, 2013

New look! I'm completely new to this blogging stuff but I'm starting to get the hang of some of it. I was able to customize a few things today and gave the place a new look! I'm hoping to work on the Theme 2 Focus Wall tonight and should have it uploaded and ready by tomorrow. I'm still working out how to put a picture of it up here for you and let you click it to get to my TpT store. It's been a big learning experience!

I also took some time to redo my Jungle Themed Number Cards. I had originally done them in Publisher but for some reason it wasn't acting right. It took forever just to move things around on the screen. I did it again in PowerPoint and it worked much better. I uploaded the new version just now:

Saturday, June 15, 2013

It's done! My room is finally cleaned and I'm ready for summer. I wasn't the last teacher standing but it was close! I always start my summer with great plans to work on something school related at least a little each day. Of course, I'm always surprised when August rolls around and I haven't done nearly as much as I wanted to. I did spend what was left of this week just relaxing and it was great.

Next week I have mentor training for two days. My mom is coming to watch the kids--they don't know yet and they'll be thrilled!

I was able to get my fist few products up on TPT. My freebie is a 120 chart. I noticed as we switched to Common Core this year that all my math supplies came with 100 charts. I was also surprised to see that when we started on numbers from 100-120 lots of my kiddos were stuck! They could count it out loud but much of the time would write 99...100...1001...1002! I had a great morning work paper from Made in 1st Grade (I think it was in their March Madness Morning Work) that had them write the numbers from 1-120. We did it often! In the end they got it. Yea! Anyway, I decided that for next year we would forgo the 100 charts and start the year with 120 charts. Hopefully seeing the numbers around the room and on their math folders will make the process much easier next year.

Houghton Mifflin Focus Wall Theme 1 is Ready!

I'm getting into a routine and actually getting some work done! Last year was my second year teaching first grade and Houghton Mifflin. I really like this program and the way everything is so incremental and builds week by week. The first year I was so busy just figuring everything out that I didn't even have a focus wall. Last year I did and it really made a big difference. I started out with just writing the information on a big chart paper. I have to admit that even thought it was old school, it was a lot of fun! It reminded me of my student teaching days, chart paper and lots of Mr. Sketch markers! (yes,I did sniff each one before I used it!) After a couple of weeks I realized that it would be much easier to just do them all in PowerPoint and print them out.

Once I started using them regularly I noticed that the kids would come in and look for them on Monday mornings! After a while they were reading them by themselves and looking forward to what we would be doing that week. They thought it was so funny when I would introduce something and they already knew about it because of the focus wall!

Over the summer I'm going to work on the walls, neaten them up and post them on TpT. The good news is...Theme 1 is done and posted! You can see it here:

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Let me introduce myself! I teach in a small Catholic school in North Carolina and I love it! I've taught pre-k, kindergarten and first grade. It seems like whatever grade I'm teaching is the best grade ever and right now that's first grade! I started teaching first grade two years ago and other teaching blogs saved me! My class is the only first grade in my school so it was great to be able to see what other first grade classes were doing. Between the blogs and TPT, I made it!

Summer's almost here! The kids are out of school and it's work week for the teachers. I don't know why but I always seem to be the last one finished! Right now my room is a disaster! I'm hoping to finish cleaning tomorrow and go through some files. I have been getting rid of a lot of stuff this year. Next year will be my third year teaching first grade. I inherited a lot of stuff from the previous teacher and I'm finally realizing what I need and what I don't. On the bright side, my tiny closet looks great! It's all cleaned out and you can even step inside to get what you need!

My goal (as always) is to be much more organized next year. This summer I'm going to work on coordinating my morning work with the Houghton Mifflin reading and math series we use. We might be changing to a new math series soon but I'm just going to go ahead and as if we're not changing or I'd never get it done!

With the kids home from school I plan to take one day a week and visit the library. Hopefully once we get home with armloads of new books I'll have time to work on my school projects and get some things uploaded to TPT!

Thanks for reading!!!